Ten Foods to Strengthen the Immune System

 The following is a list of foods to include in your pantry or fridge during the fall and winter in order to minimize opportunistic microbial bugs like influenza.
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Keep in mind that these foods can be combined with specific Chinese medicinal herbs such as Huang Qi, Ling Zhi, Dong Chong Xia Cao, Ren Shen, etc. (all available from HealthPoint) that will augment the immune boosting effects of the foods.

 Yogurt
Studies have demonstrated consuming yogurt containing live active cultures diminishes sick days or otherwise supports enhanced immune function.
Oats & barley
Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities.  
Garlic
Garlic contains allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
Shellfish
Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines - proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body.  
Cold water fish
Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation to increase bronchial airflow and protect the lungs from colds and respiratory infections. 
Chicken soup
The amino acid cysteine, which thins respiratory tract secretions, is released from chicken during cooking. This helps the soup broth thin mucus in a manner similar to cough medicine. Add garlic and onion to boost immune support. 
Tea
Rich in the immune-boosting amino acid L-theanine.
Zinc foods
The amino acid cysteine, which thins respiratory tract secretions, is released from chicken during cooking. This helps the soup broth thin mucus in a manner similar to cough medicine. Add garlic and onion to boost immune support. 
Mushrooms
Mushrooms (Ling Zhi in TCM) also increase production and activity of white blood cells. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch.
Vitamin A foods

Vitamin A rich foods support your wei qi (defensive qi), mainly by bolstering connective tissue. Connective tissue plays a key role in our integumentary system (fancy word for the body system that includes the skin). Healthy skin is the first-line defense against bacteria and viruses. Food sources of vitamin A include yams, carrots, squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe. Think orange!


Want more suggestions about adjusting your food selections for the season and/or for good health? 

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